162. How do you increase parental involvement with an ESL child?

This is a wonderful question and one that needs to be addressed by every single school in the nation. Now, before I give you my answer to your question I would like to share with you information I obtained during a recent segment of "60 Minutes." You may have possibly watched it too!

The segment dealt with the Department of Defense (DOD) Schools, that is, the public schools that the DOD provides for US military personnel ALL OVER the world, usually at US military bases for those living within each of the military bases.

Several important statistics were mentioned about DOD schools: Teacher pay is higher in those schools than in other public schools in the nation. Teacher educational background is also significantly higher, and includes many teachers with Master's degrees. Per pupil expenditure is higher. The educational achievement gap between white students and students of color is significantly narrower in these schools than in other public schools in the nation as measured by standardized tests like the Stanford 9. But the most important difference between DOD schools and other public schools in the nation is that PARENT INVOLVEMENT IS MANDATORY FOR ALL MILITARY PERSONNEL and failure to participate is dully noted, reported to the failing parent's TOP commander, and immediately corrected by the uncooperative parent.  Moreover, teachers plan their daily lessons taking into account the parent participation expected each day so that parents do not just show up and visit, they are integral parts of each and every lesson that teachers teach.

Now, I understand we cannot duplicate the DOD school conditions in every public school. However, we must recognize that parent participation IS very important and we must do WHATEVER IT TAKES to make parents integral parts of EACH LESSON we teach. HOW?

The parents of LEP students most often than not have one, two, possibly three jobs a day JUST TO SURVIVE. The parents of ENGLISH ONLY students in poor areas face the same situation. To ask these parents to show up at school during their working hours --or AFTER their working hours-- is asking the impossible, although there are federal labor laws that provide paid-work-time for parents to visit schools without loss of salary.

BUT SCHOOLS may be able, MUST, OUGHT TO come to parents, come home to parents and children. For example, through videos.

In one school I visited in Arizona, each student is issued a one-hour-video-tape every school year. During the year, students prepare four "15-minute report cards" for their parents on video. Using the language the parents know best, each child is given the opportunity to describe (h)is/er learning to the parents: They explain what they have learned, how they learned it, what they have produced to show their learning, how it was evaluated, how they are doing, how the teacher thinks they are doing, etc.

In another school, parents receive an introductory video-tape of the school, in the language they understand best, in which teachers and administrators and the entire clerical staff identify themselves and explain what they do, how to reach them, what types of questions they can answer, how they can help the parents.

There are phone services that parents can use to reach their child's teacher(s) for questions and other school matters.  There is e-mail for parents and teachers to communicate daily, almost instantly as the need arises.

We --YES!! WE, including me!!!!-- need to begin to use these means of communications more often. We MUST duplicate the kind of parent involvement in DOD schools: it is effective, it is efficient, it is incredibly important, and it seems to be producing significant improvement in students achievement for ALL students.

WE must continue to think of ways parents can extend and enhance homework at home, through personal experiences and IN THE LANGUAGE THEY CAN EXPRESS THEMSELVES BEST!!!!

To summarize, then, maybe parents canNOT be involved directly or physically in school matters: They may work too hard, they may be busy all day and exhausted at night. But school CAN GO to parents, For example, the Duplin County Schools has obtained a grant to have several busses converted into classroom/library/reading-and-computer labs. These busses travel throughout the county every day, and park at critical points where they can provide services to parents, teach parents how to work with their students after school, at home, when traveling to-and-from, and at the market, etc. Parents can be linked to teachers through these computer-lab busses for parents to ask direct questions about their students.

WE MUST be imaginative!!!!! How would I involve parents, all parents, especially parents of LEP students? By providing, first of all, a person with whom they can easily communicate, in the language the parents express themselves, and understand BEST: Their native language. When would I involve parents, all parents, especially the parents of LEP students? At all times, during the day and at night, in person or through videos, telephone services, e-mail, through radio/TV programs, etc. Where would I involve parents, all parents, especially the parents of LEP students? At school, at home, in the market, at shopping centers, through the newspaper, every day of the week and every night of the week.

In fact, I plan to schedule parents to be in my classroom next semester. I usually arrive at 6:30 AM at school. I hope to have some parents come at that time. Others I hope to schedule at nutrition time, at lunch, during each class double-period or block, and AFTER school. I hope to have parents teach something to all students--whatever they know how to do--sewing, knitting, crocheting, painting, gardening, cooking, baking, cake decorating, clay molding, whatever they do best (and that is legal and decent)!!!!. And I will relate my lessons to their skills. And I will give each of them my e-mail address and request their e-mail addresses for DIRECT/ON-THE-SPOT communications with them. And I will always address all communications to them, as I have always done. They know exactly what we are doing, when we are doing whatever their students need to do. AND I hope to institutionalize video report-cards or possibly audio-tapes for report cards BY THE STUDENTS. I will keep you posted on my parent involvement component through my Web Sites. Keep visiting!!!! There is a LOT that will be posted very soon!!!!!



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

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3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net